Sudanese authorities have restored internet services more than a month after they were cut off when the military violently broke up protests calling for civilian rule, leaving dozens dead. The loosening of media controls comes as the military and protesters are set to sign an agreement on a power-sharing, transitional government, raising cautious optimism for a peaceful solution to the stand-off.
Sudan’s telecommunications providers restored 3G and 4G data connections on Wednesday, a day after a court ruled in favor of a lawsuit challenging the cut-off.
Abdelazim al-Hassan, the head of the group of lawyers who filed the legal case, says, “Cutting off the internet was a violation of constitutional rights, a personal right due to the contract between the subscriber and the serving company.”
“As a lawyer, I deal with a lot of local and foreign companies and I’m also a university professor,” said al-Hassan. “The internet cut-off meant the stopping of my right to work, he says. So, I defended my right to work, practice my public activities, and preserve others’ rights.”
Sudan’s Transitional Military Council cut internet services in June as troops violently broke up a weeks-long sit-in, killing over 100 protesters.
The TMC cited security reasons for the internet break.
Protesters like Omer Izz-Eldin were using social media to organize and raise support for their calls for civilian rule.
“The Internet cut-off affected our work and communications with the world,” he said. “It blocked many freedoms and made people dependent on the local media and TV, instead of social media and the protesters’ shared videos and photos.”
Analyst Mamoun Ali says the transitional period in Sudan requires a free media to maintain stability.
He says the Internet cut-off has a big impact on media and press freedoms in the country… and revealing the facts related to the break-up of the protesters’ sit-in.
“As Sudan is in its transitional period, it requires a free media to make people aware of events and threats, in order to have a stable transitional period,” said Ali.
Sudan’s demonstrations sparked in December over bread prices and fuel shortages, then turned into calls for Bashir to step down.
After months of protests, the military in April ousted former President Omar al-Bashir from three decades in power and set up the transitional military council to rule until elections.
But protesters refused to leave their sit-in outside the Defense Ministry, demanding an immediate return to civilian rule.
The TMC and protest leaders last week finally agreed on a power-sharing three-year transition that is expected to be signed this week.